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[MUSIC] Modality is an important technique for
the expression of argument and opinion in academic writing. Modality can take various forms and
be expressed in different ways. For example, bi-modal verbs such as
must and may, or marginals like need to. Or, semi-modals, like have to. And lexical words, for example, nouns,
adjectives, adverbs, verbs and quantity. The main forms of model
auxiliary verbs are can, could, may, would, might, will,
must, should and ought to. Each of these forms has a variety of
functions and meanings, such as ability, reassurance, requesting,
controlling, certainty and so on. This table illustrates
some examples of forms and functions in the use of modal verbs. It is evident that modality is to
be used very carefully in academic communication because it has
similar meanings and functions. Very few ideas in academia
can be stated as fact. So using modality allows
academic writers to express, with various degree of certainty,
ideas that are not facts. Let's consider this example. Climate change threatens
the health of millions of people. Definitely, this is a fact, because the
verb is expressed by present simple tense whose main function is to state facts. Climate change might threaten
the health of millions of people. In this case,
modality expresses low certainty. A moderate, low modality
statement of opinion allows for a more tentative conclusion to be drawn. It also appears to present a reason and
objective argument because it allows for the possibility of avenues
contrary to your own claims. In comparison, a high modality
opinion can appeal to the emotions, and so, can be perceived as persuasive and
subjective. However, if there is ample evidence to
support the argument being presented, then high modality is appropriate. High modality language is also used in
specific genres for specific purposes, such as to make recommendations on
future research of problem solutions. Each of these forms has
a variety of functions and meanings, such as ability,
reassurance or request. Let's consider this
statement one more time. Climate change threatens
the health of millions of people. It is unlikely that this
statement is always true. There is always likely to be someone who doesn't follow the rule
expressed by this statement. These kinds of statements
are called overgeneralisations, and they are too general to be true. In academic English, it's important
to avoid overgeneralisations because they could weaken your argument. Here are two more examples showing how
overgeneralisation can be avoided. Climate change may threaten
the health of millions of people. It appears likely that climate
change often threaten the health of millions people. Expressions, such as may and appears,
likely are examples of modality. Modality includes any
expressions that show how certain someone is, not just modal verbs. Using modality in this way
is sometimes called hedging. Hedging is quite common in academic
English, because in academia, people have to be very careful not to make something
sound like a fact when it is not as fact. In greater detail,
hedging will be discussed in the second course of this
specialization, scholarly communication. Apart from modal verbs, useful grammatical
forms that express modality include adverbs of certainty and of frequency. Verbs indicating lack of certainty. Expressions with "it" + passive voice,
adjective or adverb. Construction, there is or
there are + noun phrase + that. Expressions of quantity. The use of high modality
language in academic writing depends on the amount of evidence
supporting your argument. However, factors such as the genre
of the writing, its purpose, and the conventions,
as well as the discipline being studied also influence the use of
high modality writing. Look at the different ways high modality
language has been used to answer a specific purpose in
the following examples. The following excerpt is taken from a
scientific article where the authors make a strong recommendation for
the direction of future research. The results of the author's
investigation provides support for this high modality stance. Ultimately, your opinion
in academic writing must be based on the evidence
you have collected. The level of modality used
to express your opinion must match the level of certainty
provided by your evidence. It might be appropriate to make a high
modality claim because evidence for multiple sources makes up your opinion. Therefore, adjust the certainty of
modality used to present your argument according to the quality and
amount of evidence supporting it. Be careful not to accidentally
state something that is true, unless you have very strong
evidence that it really is true.

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